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Pelesasa to earn his 50th Super rugby cap

Powerful centre Junior Pelesasa will earn his 50th Super rugby cap when the Emirates Western Force play the Blues at Subiaco Oval on Friday night.

Pelesasa returns to the starting line-up wearing 12, with Matt Giteau shifting back to flyhalf and James Hilgendorf switching to the bench.

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In other, rotational changes, Luke Doherty and David Pocock come into the 1st XV at blindside and openside flanker, respectively, while Richard Brown and Matt Hodgson move to the bench.

Hodgson is bracketed with David Pusey, who has a leg strain and whose selection will be determined later in the week.

Friday night’s match, the final round of the regular season, will be winger Digby Ioane’s last in the ocean blue at Subiaco Oval, having decided to further his career with the Reds.

It will also be the final time that local fans will see scrumhalf Chris O’Young, who is leaving the Force to play in Glasgow.

Emirates Western Force Head Coach John Mitchell said the Blues had been the competition leader for most of the season, and would be bolstered by the return of Luke McAlister.

‘Troy Flavell has also had an outstanding season, as has Isaia Toeava and of course Dougie Howlett is Super rugby’s most prolific try scorer of all time, so they are going to be a handful,’ he said.

‘Parts of our performance against the Cheetahs were outstanding but against a team like Blues we will need to sustain the pressure for longer periods of play.’

Mitchell said that, as with the previous week, the Force had no choice but to win and play well.

‘We come in to Friday night’s game with a slim opportunity. We must make the most of it and finish the regular season at home with a performance we can be proud of. Our wonderful supporters deserve as much.’

The squad:

1. Gareth Hardy 2. Tai McIsaac 3. Troy Takiari 4. Rudi Vedelago 5. Nathan Sharpe (c) 6. Luke Doherty 7. David Pocock 8. Scott Fava 9. Matt Henjak 10. Matt Giteau 11. Digby Ioane 12. Junior Pelesasa 13. Ryan Cross 14. Scott Staniforth 15. Drew Mitchell 16. Luke Holmes 17. AJ Whalley 18. David Pusey/Matt Hodgson 19. Richard Brown 20. Chris O’Young 21. James Hilgendorf 22. Haig Sare
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